Spotlight on Zebbie Hanafi
It’s time to grab a cuppa and cosy up with the latest in our series of blog features “Spotlight on..” . We’re sitting down with our therapists one by one and asking them questions about themselves, how they got interested in complementary therapy and what inspires them to do what they do. We hope you enjoy these articles as much as we have in putting them together!
This week we’re talking to Zebbie Hanafi, one of our newest members here at The Wellbeing Centre. Here are the answers to the questions we put to her:
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, Zebbie.
I love going for walks by trees and water. I enjoy sipping tea and watching the world go by while sitting in a café. In another life, I worked as an occupational therapist and now I am a Sophrologist. The Sophrology techniques I use are easy movement postures, breathing and visualisation techniques which I use regularly to relax my mind and body.
2. What was your first experience of a complementary therapy?
When I was a student occupational therapist in my early twenties, I learnt to meditate and did yoga. As part of my experience I went to see an Ayurvedic doctor who was able to help me balance my menstrual cycle using Ayurvedic medicine. As my “constitution” was being balanced using the Ayurvedic supplements, the quality of my meditation improved.
While I was studying occupational therapy, meditation helped me greatly. It calmed my mind as I was using my brain a lot to learn new theories and approaches in occupational therapy. The yoga helped me to relax my body and take my mind off academic study. I still meditate today and when I can, do yoga in between doing the Sophrology techniques.
3. What made you decide to become a therapist yourself?
As I have already mentioned before I became a Sophrologist, I was an occupational therapist (OT). As an OT, I was able to use my creativity and help people at the same time.
I learnt many skills and qualities as an OT over the years. I found out with experience, that the best way to help someone was just to listen to them without imposing my own values and beliefs. I realised that this allowed people to speak freely and easily. I could see with my own eyes that they began to relax in my company.
Another thing I noticed was that those people who were willing to practice the rehab techniques outside of the OT session were the most likely to become independent in everyday tasks and improve their quality of their life. From my observations on a week by week basis, I could see that those who practiced the techniques really did improve the quality of their lives.
I have also observed that those people who did not have high expectations about themselves but just “had a go” at the OT rehab techniques were always pleasantly surprised at how much they improved in daily living tasks. For me, it was really lovely to see that people could do the most amazing things if they did not put limits on themselves.
I also feel that one of the reasons people were successful was because they became more body conscious. As they became more aware of what their body was doing in everyday tasks, they became more “smart” in doing daily tasks around the house/work environment. For me, listening to what your body was saying to you as well as listening to your mind was equally important in getting things done.
As a Sophrologist, I felt that there were so many similarities to OT. From my years of practical OT experience I felt I had skills that I could transfer across to Sophrology. For me this meant:
- Grading an activity or a task from simple to the more complex, to enable someone to achieve what they want in life.
- Encouraging people to practice and repeat the techniques away from the Sophrology session, to gain the benefits.
- Provide them with case histories of people that I had worked with to help them gain self-belief in that by doing the Sophrology techniques you can gain benefits.
- Teaching people to become more aware of themselves, not just in the mind but also in the body as well.
- And helping people to become aware of the signals that the body is saying to you to help you manage different situations in life.
As a Sophrologist, what this approach can add is:
- Learn to be more body conscious by “pausing” in between the Sophrology techniques to consolidate and reinforce the benefits you have gained. And in everyday activities, to pause and take a break, even if this was for a minute. This can make the “difference” in a day.
- The techniques can help you to release tensions and anything of excess in the mind and body.
- Bring in the positive elements into your present, future and past experiences of your life.
- They are easy to do and can be done anywhere. I like the flexibility of Sophrology. You can adapt the techniques to suit your lifestyle.
4. What are your top 3 tips for wellbeing?
Balance in all things – not so easy to do when you are running around being superwoman/man. However starting with small “pauses” in the day to reconnect with yourself – body and mind to find out what is happening inside is a small start to regaining that balance.
Practice and repetition – I can’t say this enough to people. It is the key to gaining what you want in life, whatever that is. Doing this without the help of the Sophrologist, away from the sessions, I feel is very important. You get to know what works or does not work for you. What you consider the benefits are and what that actually feels like in your body and your mind.You get to know yourself.
Resilience – learning to be resilient is not something that I was taught at school or by my family. This was something that I learnt as I went along in life, through my OT training, personal development and Sophrology. I feel that there are different methods that can help you gain resilience. Nutrition, exercise, yoga and mindfulness are all different ways. For others, talking therapies, hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming are other ways to gain resilience. I feel it is really important for people to find what works for them. I also feel that Sophrology is a really lovely way for people to explore what resilience is for them.
5. Who are your greatest inspiration in your wellbeing journey?
Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Ghandi are inspiring and special people for me but to be honest, the people I find most inspiring are out there on the street doing normal everyday things. Sometimes, I watch on the TV, a person who has saved someone’s life or set up a charity or something like this. They have done this quietly. I find these people very inspiring as they help people without any need to gain attention, have no money or seek media coverage for help.
6. What issues have you had most success in helping your clients with?
People have told me that they have been able to release physical tension and “nervous” anxiety from doing the Sophrology techniques. They have also shared that they have been clearer in the mind as well. A lot of people have stated that the quality of their sleep has improved as they have had fewer thoughts “running around” their minds at night time. Particularly if they do the easy movement postures before they go to sleep.
Some people have stated that being body conscious has helped them to be more grounded and less in their heads. Others have said that after they have done the easy movement postures they are more relaxed in their body, their breathing is more “full”, “regular” and “slower”. A few people who have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, shared that they feel less physical pain and physical tension in certain parts of their body.
I feel the reasons that people (would) come to see me is because I have been where they have been. I have had many challenges and changes in my life. Some of those challenges have crippled me. Because of my own life experiences, I can empathise with those in challenging situations.
As I am older now, I feel I can share what I have learned over the years and give a helping hand to those that are finding life difficult. I know what stress and anxiety feels like in my mind and body and I know what it is, not sleep at night. I know what it takes to prepare for life events and how much that can cost as well.
I have a heart based approach to life. I am warm-hearted and am able to listen without imposing my own values and beliefs onto people. I am an encourager. I encourage people to find out who and what they are. I am practical. I can break down a task into its different parts to work out practical solutions to manage a situation. I am creative. I can use my creative skills (and voice) in the Sophrology session to help people get to a different place in themselves. I have practical experience of working with people with different medical conditions and can apply my working knowledge of OT within the framework of Sophrology.
8. Is there anything you would like to share?
Just to add, I am a fusion of English and Asian cultures and used to live in London. I have a healthy curiosity in finding out what makes people tick. I have always been interested in different cultures and faiths. I really love talking to people from all walks of life and love to hear their life stories and find out how they got to where they are, today.
One thing to add, just because you are “crippled” in life does not mean you can’t achieve your purpose in life. You can still be crippled and still “LIVE” life. That is something that I have learnt about myself. I can still live life.
9. What is the best way to contact you for more information and to book a treatment with you?
Please get in touch with me to find out how I can help.
Mobile: 07426 413331
The Wellbeing Centre Reception: 01635 552874
N.B. The Wellbeing Centre Reception is open to drop-in and email enquiries weekdays 9:30- 17:30 excluding Bank Holidays. Please note that I am able to see clients outside of these hours by appointment and subject to availability.
I’m running Sophrology Tasters for people to find out how more about Sophrology and how it can help them. Please see my page about Sophrology Tasters (click here>>) for more information about upcoming dates and how to book.